NEW DELHI (TIP): Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar on October 24 said Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has to prove his mettle before taking up a bigger role after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. “One has to prove his mettle in administration. Rahul Gandhi should have joined the Manmohan Singh government. He did not join,” the NCP chief told a TV channel. “I would have preferred if he had joined the Manmohan Singh government… definitely it would have been beneficial for him,” he added. However, Pawar refused to elaborate on the issue saying he was not opposed to Rahul’s candidature for the post of prime minister. When asked whether he would be uncomfortable working under Rahul, Pawar said, “Here, there is no question of working together. There is a generation gap.” The NCP boss maintained that the two major political parties — Congress and BJP — may be short of the magic number to form government.

“BJP might get some more seats. Congress might lose some. But the numbers may not add up,” he said. Reiterating his support for the Congress irrespective of election results, the Maratha strongman argued that that UPA had a better prospect of getting support of regional allies. “I am with Congress. My association will be with Congress. Tomorrow, if situation comes, I will stand with Congress and UPA and will help to get likeminded forces to form the government,” he said, adding that Congress must work with allies. Pawar clarified that he was not going to contest in the next Lok Sabha elections, dismissing rumours that he was in the race for the post of prime minister. He rejected the view that there was a Narendra Modi wave in some parts of the country. Reacting to a question on Modi, Pawar said, “I have contested 14 elections so far. In my experience of electioneering, those who begin much earlier will be disappointed.”